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Editor's Note

James R. Adair

“Righteous persistence in the face of difficulty brings reward.” So says the text of hexagram 36 in the I Ching, the ancient Chinese Book of Changes. Some changes are good, some are bad, but almost all big changes involve stress of some sort, as hexagram 36 suggests. Changes are occurring at Voices de la Luna, some overt and some behind the scenes, and we hope they are changes that will benefit the magazine and its readers. First, we have changed the subtitle of the magazine to A Quarterly Literature and Arts Magazine to emphasize that we promote fiction and creative nonfiction as well as poetry. Second, we have rearranged the contents of the magazine and modified the layout, particularly of the pages that contain poetry. We believe that the new format, which uses liberal amounts of whitespace, will call attention to our poems in a way that the older format did not. Third, we have two new editors: poetry editor Octavio Quintanilla and prose editor Jasmina Wellinghoff. Quintanilla, who has contributed several poems to Voices over the years, supplies us with several photos that appear throughout the magazine, and Wellinghoff publishes a short story in this, her inaugural issue. I look forward to working with them as we strive together, with the rest of the editorial team and the board, to make Voices de la Luna the premier literary magazine in South Texas and among the best in the state.

This issue of Voices focuses on Native Americans and their contributions to American literature, culture, and history. Our cover art was painted by Ramón Vásquez y Sánchez, a local artist and Coahuiltecan leader. Erika Wurth, an Apache/Chickasaw/Cherokee writer from Colorado, is our featured poet. Nan Cuba describes her travels to Mayan sites in the Yucatán Peninsula, and Agnieszka Czeblakow provides a glimpse into the UTSA library’s holdings of works related to indigenous and Native American peoples in the Western hemisphere. Other American Indian themes also grace our pages, and we even include the work of perhaps the most famous Cherokee public figure of the early twentieth century, Will Rogers.

We are privileged to have an interview with the U.S. Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, who discusses the influences on his work and his perception of the ways in which poetry can provide a way forward in our diverse and fractured world. And speaking of poets laureate, Texas has named two more, and both are San Antonio residents: Jenny Browne (2017) and Carol Coffee Reposa (2018)—read brief bios on each of them on page 39 of this issue.

Finally, we feature the contributions of other poets, writers, and artists who celebrate and lament life and its vicissitudes, commenting on the encounters we have, the relationships we build (and lose), the struggles we face as we attempt to overcome adversity, and the lessons we learn from those who have gone before us.

Change is an inevitable part of life. We can either fight against it or accept it—and there are times when both are necessary. Whether we acquiesce or resist, the world around us never stands still, and it has always been that way. Forward into the everchanging world!

 


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He Brought Me Down

Erika T. Wurth

He brought me down on the old grey carpet in the empty room, the smell of smoke and blood everywhere, the girl he didn’t want waiting outside. In that empty room, the darkness complete, my head racing with images of her face, how it mirrored mine with her long dark hair in her long black car, in the middle of the desert, her eyes narrowing into mine, his short dark hands rough but walking in beauty and on the edge, I came to understand what those hands wanted of me. He said he couldn’t help himself his mother a teacher, his father a medicine man, my long yellow body like so many others wrapped around his small one, his skin the darkest cedar. Days later, on that last night under the stars I don’t know if we woke the neighbors, but something dark and dangerous came awake inside me, sliding back into the grass, a blooming of something bright as the blood that had come from my hand that first night, when I’d gone to open the bottle of cheap white wine for the girl he was going to put aside for me only hours later. You’re strong, she said. Yes, I said, pushing down and watching the blood rush forth.

 

A Smoky Day at the Sugar Bowl—Hupa

Photo by Edward S. Curtis, 1923

 

On a Flawless Summer Morning

Betsy Joseph

The woman in azure silk, not given a choice to stay where she had lived her whole life, chose to die— tumbling from a Black Hawk chopper while her surroundings still felt familiar— tumbling almost gently into a rice paddy of soft liquid brown. The pilot watched bewildered, nimble as the woman was, quick to leave her seat; the other refugees took up wailing. She had been one of them until that moment of decision. The woman in ruined silk remained unmoving in the lush bed of rice with a pale straw bag still clutched to her heart. Saigon had dictated relocations, but the woman who did not want to leave her home chose otherwise on that flawless summer morning.

 

Rose Window, Mission San José

Photo by Octavio Quintanilla

 

Homecoming (excerpt)

Jasmina Wellinghoff

… The first time he mentioned it, it was in a lighthearted manner, as if it were a joke. Tired after yet another performance, the two of them were drinking champagne in the hotel bar. She laughed easily and drank with pleasure. Champagne always made her feel lightheaded, a state of body and mind that she found most enjoyable. Extending a leg under the table, Sonia poked him in the thigh and Yuri pretended that it hurt.

“What would your adoring fans in Moscow do without you?” she teased.

“I will have other, richer fans,” he retorted.

“Aha, you are in it for the money! Now the truth comes out!”

“What’s wrong with money? Wouldn’t you like to live in a mansion on the coast of sunny California? I’ll feed you caviar and champagne every night.” And it went on like that, silly words made sillier by too much champagne.

Sonia felt warm, safe, happy. Eventually, Yuri lifted her off the chair with his strong arms forged into muscular steel by years of lifting his stage partners. “You are tipsy, my dear. Time for bed,” he said.

By the third time the subject of seeking asylum in the U.S. came up, the mood was very different. He was trying to convince her. Yes, money was part of it, he conceded, but think about all the new contemporary choreography they would get to explore, Balanchine, John Cranko, Jiri Kylian. Maybe they could start their own company someday. “Please Sonia, this is our chance, this is our chance!” Then, to her relief, he stopped talking about it. So she was surprised, when on their last night in New York, he pulled her into the bathroom, closed the door, and let the shower run continuously.…

 

Mission Espada

Ramón Vásquez y Sánchez

 

 


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